Jan 9, 2016

1969 World Champion & 1973 NL Champion Mets Pitcher: Jim McAndrew (1968-1973)

James Clement McAndrew was born on January 11, 1944 on a farm at Lost Nation, Iowa. The six foot two right hander, excelled in both basketball & baseball in high school.

After suffering a knee injury while playing basketball, he switched full time to baseball. He attended the University of Iowa where he was spotted by New York Mets scouts, who were there to watch first round draft pick Steve Arlin pitch against McAndrew.

The Mets ended up drafting him in the 11th round of the inaugural MLB draft of 1965, one round after Nolan Ryan was selected. He earned a degree in psychology at college, married his high school sweetheart & had a son right away. 

At first he thought of quitting baseball when he didn’t reach the majors right away, but his wife Lynn told him to try to stick it out.

He then credits Mets GM Bob Scheffing for helping coach him when Scheffing was still director of player development. In the minors at first, McAndrew was milling around in the bullpen until Whitey Herzog (Director of Player Development) ordered his manager to make him a starter. That's the point where McAndrew excelled.

In 1967 he was 10-8 with a 1.47 ERA at AA Williamsport striking out 120 batters in 153 innings. 

In 1968 at AAA Jacksonville he was 8-3 with a 2.54 ERA striking out 117 batters in 117 innings. That July the Mets called him up for an emergency start to fill in a spot starting a game in a double header against the St. Louis Cardinals. McAndrew was a good pitcher who stayed with the Mets for six years but never became a regular starter due to the quality of pitching the Mets during that period. 

McAndrew got his first career start going up against that years Cy Young winner, St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer; Bob Gibson. In his MLB debut McAndrew only allowed one run over six innings but the Mets were shut out by Gibson, in a 2-0 loss.

McAndrew was supposed to go back to AAA Jacksonville, but when Nolan Ryan was called away for military duty, he remained on the staff. He suffered bad luck right off the bat, starting out 0-5 as the Mets got shut out four times in his first seven starts. In his second start, Mike Keckich of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a one hit 2-0 shutout over the Mets at Dodger Stadium.

Next, the San Francisco Giants Bob Bolin tossed a four hit shutout over New York at Candlestick Park. In his Shea Stadium debut, the Houston Astros Don Wilson & John Buzhardt combined for another shut out, putting McAndrew at 0-4 even though he didn’t allow more than two runs in any of his outings. He finally got his first win in St. Louis, beating Hall of Famer Steve Carlton but had to throw a five hit shutout to get a 1-0 win.

After two straight losses, he won his last three decisions highlighted by a two hit, two run complete game against Ken Hotltzman & the Chicago Cubs. He closed out the year with a fantastic 2.28 ERA although he had just a 4-7 record due to lack of run support. McAndrew pitched in 12 games striking out 46 batters walking 17 while pitching in 79 innings.

In Spring Training 1969 he pitched well enough to make a very talented staff & get the start in the second game of the season. His bad luck troubles continued at the start of the season, mostly due to arm & finger problems.

He began the year at 0-2 then got his first win at the end of June, pitching in eight innings for a combined two hit shutout with Ron Taylor in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. In his next start he threw a complete game victory, which was a three hit two run performance in St. Louis. This added up to only two earned runs allowed over 17 innings in the last two starts. At the end of August he threw three straight complete games, while matching a club record at the time of 23 scoreless innings.

On August 20th, he tossed a two hit shut out, striking out six San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium. On August 26th in San Diego, he blanked the Friars on a five hitter & then in San Francisco later in the week, he got no decision after allowing just two runs over nine innings. 

The Mets were tied for first place with the Chicago Cubs on September 10th, when McAndrew got the start in the second game of a doubleheader with the Montreal Expos.

He pitched 11 innings allowing just two runs on four hits, striking out seven Expos, when Ken Boswell’s RBI single won it in the 11th inning. In the month he was 0-2 with two no decisions. McAndrew finished the year at 6-7 with a 3.42 ERA, 90 strikeouts & 44 walks in 135 innings pitched. He made 21 starts in 27 games & due to the strong Mets staff, did not pitch in the 1969 post season.

In 1970 he got the start in the third game of the season taking a loss in St. Louis to the Cardinals. In his third start of April of 1970 he pitched nine shutout innings against San Diego’s Clay Kirby who had a no hitter himself going through eight innings. The Padre Manager Preston Gomez lifted Kirby for a pinch hitter & the Mets scored three runs, earning McAndrew the win.

That season when he pitched well he suffered from lack of run support, other times he struggled due to his own poor pitching. From mid August through the end of the season, he pitched four complete games during a course of six games, allowing just six runs over 51 innings going 4-0. He finished the year 10-14 leading the club in losses (14) & shut outs (3) pitching in 32 games. He posted a 3.56 ERA with 111 strike outs in 184 innings, walking just 38 batters to give him one of the league’s best strikeout to walk ratios.

In 1971 he was knocked out cold, while shagging fly balls in the outfield as he collided with pitcher Gary Gentry. McAndrew awoke in a hospital with stitches in his head, unaware of what had happened before regaining his senses. It affected his pitching as well. McAndrew was 1-4 by Memorial Day & had an ERA of 7.77. McAndrew always seemed to put in some good outings each year. On June 8th he threw a five hitter in Houston & in the next start he allowed just one run over nine innings against the Cincinnati Reds.

On July 21st he threw his best game of the year, in San Diego he struck out nine Padres & tossed a three hitter in a 3-0 Mets win. He was streaky the rest of the year losing three straight games, winning three straight games & then closing out the year with three straight losses. He only pitched 90 innings (25 games) going 2-5 with a 4.38 ERA. He struck out 11 batters walking just 38 in 184 innings pitched.

After the tragic passing of Gil Hodges just before the start of the 1972 season, new manager Yogi Berra put McAndrew back in the bullpen, as a reliever. He would pitch well enough to get back in the rotation by mid May. He won four straight starts from May into June. At the All Star break he was 6-3 with a 2.99 ERA, but did not pitch again until July 30th due to the fact Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman Gary Gentry & rookie Jon Matlack were all pitching so well.

When he returned he won three straight games to start off August, including a three hit one run victory over the Chicago Cubs, bringing his record to 9-3. From there things cooled as he lost five of his last seven decisions for the third place Mets who were 83-73. McAndrew still finished with his best overall season going 11-8, with a 2.80 ERA. He struck out 81 batters & walked 38 pitching in 80 innings in 28 games (23 starts).

In the 1973 Mets pennant season, McAndrew lost his first two starts then won his next two beating Montreal & Houston, finishing April at 2-2. The Mets staff was struggling through injuries, just as the starting line up was hurting as well. McAndrew struggled as well, allowing three earned runs or more four times over May & June. 

He fell to 3-7 with an ERA near six by the start of July. The rest of the month he made just four relief appearances before getting a start on August 5th.

That day he allowed 12 hits on four runs to the St. Louis Cardinals taking a loss. By that point Tug McGraw had secured the Met bullpen & the starters were all healthy while pitching their best. McAndrew only saw action in five more games through the end of the year. In the Mets 1973 NL Pennant year he went 3-8 with a 5.89 ERA. He struck out 38 batters & walked 31 in 80 innings of work 23 games (12 starts). He threw four complete games and posted one save.

Although he was on the postseason roster, he didn’t see any action. Even though he was on two Mets World Series teams, McAndrew never pitched in a single post season game. In December of 1973, his run in New York was over, he was traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Steve Simpson.

McAndrew will always be remembered as a Met pitching in the shadows of some great pitchers during some good old days. In six seasons as a Met he was 36-49 with 424 strike outs 213 walks & a 3.54 ERA in 146 games. McAndrew went just 1-4 in San Diego in 1974 and was released in June 1974 ending his seven year career. 

 In his seven year career he was 37-53 lifetime, with four saves, six shut outs & twenty complete games. He posted a 3.65 ERA while striking out 424 batters & walking 213 batters in 771 innings, in 161 games with 110 starts. 

Retirement: After baseball McAndrew worked as a sales manager in the coal industry for over 25 years in the Chicago, St. Louis & Denver areas. He & his wife Lynn retired in Phoenix Arizona after raising their four children. His son Jamie pitched two years for the Milwaukee Brewers going 3-4 lifetime with a 5.98 ERA in 15 games.

The always smiling McAndrew was on hand for the 20th anniversary of the 1973 pennant team, the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008, as well as the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Championship team at Citi Field in 2009.

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